IRONMAN Chattanooga 2018 Race Report

My final IRONMAN event of the year! Number 5 for 2018 and the magical number 12 that allows me to apply for a Kona Legacy spot. There is never a dull IRONMAN experience and this was not an exception! Also being the last of the year I also wanted to try and raise money for a good cause so asked for donations for Cure Childhood Cancer. With company matching we managed to raise over $2000 which was awesome and I appreciate everyone’s generosity!

I’m actually starting to write this Friday night and then will add to it over the next few days.

On Thursday I arrived at DFW airport around lunch time for my flight. I was wearing my Lake Placid 20th Anniversary IRONMAN T-Shirt and someone stopped me. “Are you doing Chattanooga?” The gentleman asked, I replied in the affirmative. “They have cancelled the swim!” He told me. Sure enough I jumped to facebook and there was a tiny post gaining lots of comments and reactions very quickly.

For those that may have seen one of my other reports, swimming for me is the worst. Although physically its the easiest it’s also the most stressful with hundreds of arms and legs seemingly having the single goal of smashing you in the face. An IRONMAN event without the swim, how do I feel about that (note it still counts officially as an IRONMAN and towards the Kona legacy program)? Of course I should be very disappointed it was no longer a “proper” IRONMAN however my brain was doing this (video credit The Simpsons – Bart the Fink):

I’m kidding obviously I was very disappointed (video credit Eddie Izzard – Dress to Kill):

As I spoke to some people apparently the swim was cancelled for two reasons:

  1. There had been a lot of rain and flooding so the river flow as 8 times that of last year. Note I normally swim a 90 minute IRONMAN whereas in Chattanooga I swim a 60 so that gives you some idea of the normal flow. 8 times that would have been impossible to get out at the finish line although it would have been cool do swim a 20 minute 2.4 mile πŸ™‚
  2. There had been a lot of sewage and waste water released into the river so the e.coli were 20 times above the safe swimming limit

So yeah, cancelling the swim absolutely the right call. There were lots of people complaining about them cancelling the swim, how they should get refunds etc. Reality is the refund policy is very clear and its an outdoor sport. Things happen. I fully believe the race directors do everything they can. They don’t want to make last minute changes but it’s to protect the athletes. I also don’t want to swim in poo water πŸ™‚

As the people round the airport were talking, many were lamenting how much swim training they had done, how much it sucked. I had done almost no swim training for the past few months as it aggravates my knee problems and so while I nodded and tried to make an effort to share their disappointment, well:

If it was any other IRONMAN it would bother me more however the Chattanooga swim is so easy anyway and you have 4 extra miles on the bike so you are still doing 140.6+ πŸ™‚ (142.2 to be exact without the swim). When the plane landed some people were meeting people who had been to an athlete briefing and talked about the changes:

  • Would be a bike – run event (no swim, we knew that but no run first for 2.4 miles just straight to bike)
  • Transition would open at 6:30
  • Pros would start at 8:00 (only male pros for this event)
  • Age groupers would start at 8:30 and would be released 2 at a time every 5 seconds (like a time trial start). Athletes would be released based on bib number, lowest first (I’m 356 which is super early thanks to AWA so I would be heading out pretty early. I felt bad for people in the 2000’s who would not be starting till close till 10:00!)
  • Everyone would still have the full time for the bike and run

Essentially skipping the swim and the first transition. You would just start on the bike. It was such a big change it totally messed with my whole thought process. The full statement was released to Facebook around the time of landing.

I got my taxi to the hotel (tried the Westin this year which is nice) then had a burger and fries from the room service menu which was awesome.

Friday I walked down and checked in. They still gave you a swim cap but didn’t write your number on it so I now have a pristine swim cap for Chattanooga. Everything else was the same and I was in and out in about 10 minutes including the store. I walked over the bridge to the Walgreens to buy water and sports drinks, walked back over the bridge, got my bike from TriBike and went back to the hotel for 30 minutes. I then went out to a few stores then lunch at Community Pies for spaghetti with meat sauce before heading back to the hotel room where I just relaxed and had room service burger and fries again. I laid out my gear on the bed as usual but its so strange without the swim gear and of course only one transition bag now (the run). I figured I’d wear my donut bike shirt this time instead of the pizza one πŸ™‚ I also have a run shirt with my little IronBrit logo on it however even though I bought XL it’s tiny so may end up running the marathon in a crop top. We’ll see.

Saturday I woke up early, packed my run back and headed out at 9:30 to drop my things of at the transition point. It’s interesting how much stress was removed by removing the swim and the first transition. I felt so much calmer however also I felt thrown off as the normal flow didn’t apply πŸ™‚ Saturday I had pizza for lunch and then spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner. On my walk back from lunch a gentleman stopped me looking nervous. He was probably in his sixties and this was his first IRONMAN event. He said I looked like someone who had done these before and what should he put in his run bag. I went through what I put in and just gave the advice of visualizing what you will be wearing head to toes and don’t forget race belt, bib, nutrition etc. Wished him good luck. Hope he did OK! Went to bed about 8 and managed to sleep till about 3am which was good. My target time to get up was 4am

Once up I had a quick shower (helps wake me up), and put on my race tattoos. Normally I put them on the night before which I think is better as they seemed to come off easier during the IRONMAN so in future I’ll go back to the night before application. I got dressed into my bike gear (still felt so weird), drank a protein shake, ate an apple sauce and a bagel. I then just lay around the room until 6:15 when I walked down to transition (which opened at 6:30).

As usual there were plenty of people to help pump up the tires, I put on my drink bottles and then waited πŸ™‚ There was nothing to do. I wandered around, no lines at the port-a-potties as I guess many people knew roughly what time they would start and were now close to their hotels rather than miles away at a remote swim start so relaxed there instead of at the start. Because there was no swim the bike was going to be a time trial start. The pros started at 8:00 with about a 30 second gap between them. The age groupers started at about 8:20 I think with 2 going every 5 seconds. They got us to line up in an odd and even line. About a hundred yards from the start you clipped in one foot and then they had the little beep machine. Beep beep beep beeeeeppppppp and you were off.

This was a bike experience and overall IRONMAN experience unlike any other for me because of my early number and time trial bike start. I’m not a good swimmer. I normally start near the back in the 1:30 group and finish in about 1:30 (except for Chattanooga where I normally do 1:00 because of the current). This means I’m normally finishing in the bottom. For example my previous IRONMAN (Wisconsin 2018) I finished number 1550 out of 2407 registered (although only 1912 actually finished so I can’t tell how many actually started) but let’s say bottom 1/3. I’m a stronger cyclist and so normally the first transition tent is packed and the bike course is super busy as I’m generally catching people up.

I was number 356. I started about 8:30. I’m guessing maybe 250 ish people started before me (they don’t fill up 0-100 etc). Out on the bike course it was empty! Very few people were catching me up and overtaking me, I caught a few people but especially as the course went on there were times I could not even see another cyclist. It was just me and was just very, very strange. Removing the swim and its effect on where I was made a huge difference. I guess bottom line is I should swim more to get it up to closer to my biking to have a more spacious bike experience!

This was my 3rd year doing Chattanooga. The course is hilly but as soon as you go up there is normally a downhill to give back. The first half of each loop (its two loops) is generally slightly up hill while the second half is more downhill. The course support was great (as always) with lots of people cheering you on. There were some pot holes on the roads but they were well marked.

Because I had not done the swim I decided to really just go for it on the bike (which is 116 miles instead of the normal 112 for an IRONMAN. I think to try and make up for the downstream swim πŸ™‚ ). With my new power meter pedals I’ve been focusing more on trying to maintain power so my goal was 180 (which is typically what I do on the bike at Lifetime Fitness for my Saturday training). Well my numbers are below.

chat2018bikedata

Basically I averaged 189 and if you look at power over time it didn’t really even dip towards the end however you’ll notice my speed did even though it was more downhill. Weird right? Well at about mile 90 I noticed that any bumps I went over were hard on my back wheel like there was no cushioning, i.e. low tire pressure. Every bump jolted through my man parts up through my teeth πŸ™‚ Ouch. I didn’t want to stop though and was still able to ride forward but I had to put in more effort to try and maintain speed. When I finished the bike I pinched my bike back tire and it was super soft, basically had a slow leak however I’m grateful that still managed to get till the end but it did take more out of me putting in the extra effort because of greater resistance.

The bike conditions were awesome. Very cloudy stopping the sun hitting you directly and around 70 degrees for most of it warming up to 75 towards the last couple of hours. It’s a nice scenic course and I enjoyed it. Bike support was every 10 miles with drinks and food as normal. It was very peaceful and the miles went by quickly except the last 16 which somehow seemed to imply there was a blackhole somewhere as time slowed to a near stop πŸ™‚

Overall though I was happy with the bike. Sub 6 hours (exact time 5:54:17) on a 116 mile course with good power and felt OK getting off the bike. Into the transition tent (which was nearly empty so lots of support from the volunteers) and was in and out in less than 10 minutes (9:46).

The start of the run was on a little bit of grass but they put a mat on it. This was a change and I think required because of some flooding so not a big deal. The run was hilly. Hillier than I remember. It’s two loops with two very big hills you have to go up (and down) towards the end of each loop. Also the clouds had now gone and the sun was pretty strong. Temperature was only around 80 but it felt hot when there was no shade. The first hour I managed to maintain a pretty good pace but slowed after that. I would walk up the hills then try and run when it was flat/downhill however it seemed more and more to be just up hill (which is of course impossible πŸ™‚ ). The physical effort was not the worst part though of the marathon. I have young children who when they like a movie will watch it over and over again. They have been watching the My Little Pony movie. There is a song in this movie “We Got This Together” (you can hear a part of it via https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075KPXXLG/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk1). I’ve been hearing this song over and over the past couple of weeks. Well on the course are many signs saying “You’ve got this” and many people would shout out “You’ve got this”. That is the starting line of the chorus to the song. The horrible, horrible song. Every time I read the line or someone said it my brain would proceed to play the chorus for about 2 minutes. It would then stop at which point I would see the next sign or the next person would shout it out where the playback would proceed again. This would continue for the entire 5 hour and 25 minute marathon. The mental pain was worse than the physical pain I think πŸ™‚

My total time for the marathon was 5:24:43 so average pace around 12:24 min/mile so a bit slower than I hoped but given my bike time I was OK with it.

With the single transition my times were:

  • Bike – 5:53:53
  • Transition 2 (well 1 really) – 9:56
  • Run – 5:24:43

My total time was therefore 11:28:31.

99_3rd-2445504-CERT_US-2255_150672-21444230

Obviously this would be a PR but does not count since there was no swim or transition 1. If I took my average swim time and transition 1 time for the previous 2 years of Chattanooga would give 1:05 for swim and 11 minutes for transition so add a total of 1:16. That would be a total time of 12:44:31 and would be even less if I took just last years time (59 minute swim and 10 minute transition). 12:44:30 would be a new PR. I still can’t count it πŸ™‚ The physical effort of the swim is missing and even though I never find the swim physically hard it still would impact my physically (including just not drinking liquids for an hour, burning calories, stress) but interesting data.

What is more interesting is my placing. The results site (www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman/chattanooga/results.aspx
) shows 2,605 athletes (people registered). Out of that it seems like 1891 actually finished (those 700 delta would be a mix of people who didn’t even start (DNS) and those that started but didn’t finish (DNF)).

  • Bike 518th overall
  • Run 658th overall
  • Total IRONMAN 658th overall

This put me in the top third (maybe even top quarter if I knew how many started) which is much better than normal. Normally I’m around mid point.

The swim, although a very small part has a massive hit on me. For this IRONMAN I got 2,708 points. I’ve never got more than 2000 for any other race! Looks like I really should work on my swimming which I NEED TO DO BECAUSE NOW I’VE HIT 12!!! I can apply for the Legacy Program and my Kona slot where it’s a non wetsuit ocean swim so I need to be better anyway. Time in the pool is in my future πŸ™‚

JohnSwim

My medals getting to 12 πŸ™‚

20181002_224940848_iOS

Overall this was a great IRONMAN and managed to raise some great money for an awesome cause. I understand those people who were disappointed that there was no swim but it was a tough day and if you finished it YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

IRONMAN Lake Placid Race Report

Also known as “suddenly Boulder doesn’t seem so tough” πŸ™‚

Lake Placid was my 3rd IRONMAN this year, 6 weeks after Boulder which itself was a very tough day with the altitude and high heat. Lake Placid also marks my 10th IRONMAN just 2 more to go (Wisconsin and Chattanooga later this year) until I can apply for the legacy program and at some point the opportunity to partake in IRONMAN Kona.

My training since Texas has not been going great. I think doing an IRONMAN every 6 weeks is very aggressive and I’m fatigued physically and mentally however the last 2 weeks have gone pretty well and I think most of it is mental and was feeling mentally strong and in pretty good shape. Placid was going to test that πŸ™‚

Like Boulder, my family came with me. We flew into Montreal and spent a couple of days there where we took the kids to the science museum and wandered round the old town. I went to a Tim Hortons and ate Poutin and a maple leaf donut. This was about as Canadian as I felt possible πŸ™‚

20180718_220628621_iOS

We drove the 3 hour trip to Lake Placid on Thursday where we checked into the High Peaks Resort which is the host resort for IRONMAN Lake Placid. Note that although its the host resort it is actually pretty far from the village and the transitions. There are many other hotels much closer FYI. It was a nice enough resort though and the staff were very friendly.

When we arrived we went and registered at the convention center which was all very standard and then went and registered the kids for the IRONKIDS run on Friday and the VIP passes so the family had a good view at the finish line. As usual bought a few things in the store including a complete Lake Placid IRONMAN tri shorts, running shirt and bike shirt in addition to a donut IRONMAN bike shirt πŸ™‚

Lake Placid is a small town but there are a lot of places to eat with a huge number of Italian restaurants so lots of pizza and pasta choices πŸ™‚ There is also a Ben and Jerrys ice cream store which we may have frequented daily. Also a nice chocolate shop with giant chocolate raisins!

On Friday we had the IRONKIDS run. It said it started at 2:00 however before the half mile run they had the kids dip and dash who all had to finish so the run didn’t actually start till 2:45 and it was a hot day. There were a lot of very grumpy kids. I definitely think it would make more sense to tell people different start times for the various events.

After the run I laid out all my gear. This event added lip balm sunscreen as on boulder my lips got a bit burnt. As it would turn out sun was not a huge problem for Lake Placid πŸ™‚

20180720_194854135_ios.jpg

 

Saturday I took my bike and bags down to the transition area. The run and bike bags are kept together on a set of hooks which was pretty cool. Your morning clothes bag went on the same hook on Sunday so was easy to collect everything at the end of the day.

20180721_144559351_iOS

For the rest of the day I pretty much did nothing. Pasta for lunch and as always pizza for dinner. We watching Paddington Bear 2 in the room πŸ™‚ I bought tri-tats for this event so put them on before bed. Went to bed around 8:30 and actually slept pretty well. I got up at about 3:15 to eat my apple sauce, protein shake and bagel. I checked the weather forecast and it had stayed with rain starting around 8am and finishing around 12 with temperature of 55 going up to 72 later in the day. Greeeaaaatttttt.

I walked the half mile down to transition, pumped up my tires, put on a bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water (which I never even opened) however the morning clothes bag drop off was at the transition and so I just hung around the transition area sitting in the men’s changing tent rather than going to the swim start. The water temperature was about 74 so wet suit legal, woo hoo! With an hour before the 6:40 age group start I put on my wet suit, applied the spray on lube around my neck, put on some sun screen and put my morning clothes bag on the bottom hook next to my run bag then walked down to the swim start.

It wasn’t raining yet but was 55 and pretty chilly. The swim course was two loops (really just out and back) but they were really keeping people pretty tight on the swim course not letting people stray too much out by way of people in canoes telling you to move over, which meant frequently you would bump into people, get stuck behind people and a few times get kicked by people. It was a rolling start where you self seeded into your estimated finish time. I know a few people with anxiety around the swim were unable to finish because of how bunched together they made us. I thought the swim was fine though, finishing in 1:29:59 (no matter where I swim I’m always 1.5 hours). Sometimes it’s good to be a bigger person so if people do knock into you its fairly easy to knock them back out the way. πŸ™‚ You have to get out the water between loops and they had some water to drink which was nice. It started to rain during the second loop which made the water a bit choppy. Overall the swim in Mirror Lake was nice and you had great visibility to see the buoys so was easy to stay on course. I also saw the underwater line a few times that connects the buoys and if you can stay on it provides the shortest path without having to sight the buoys. Problem is everyone tries to do that πŸ™‚

167_3rd-2415593-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2178_076686-18674952

After the swim its a run to the transition area (which really wasn’t that far, I had heard half a mile but was nothing like that). Grabbed my bike bag off the hook, into the tent, put on my new bike shirt, applied the butt chamois butt’r stuff which really helps with the saddle pain and is much better than a bar type thing I used to use. Applied some sun screen, stored my nutrition and out I went. Into the rain. I turned on my bike computer but it was having problems finding GPS so didn’t register the first .25 mile of the ride but thankfully started showing my speed pretty quick. It was now raining a lot. A lot of cold rain, in the cold. 55 degrees. This would be the state of the entire first loop pretty much. I was freezing for most of the first loop and it was a cold that felt like it was going down into your bones. My new white socks were basically black by the end.

179_3rd-2415593-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2178_093992-18674964

Additionally there was a 15mph SE wind which just was the cherry on top of my misery Sunday πŸ™‚ It hit you as a headwind but somehow never was a tailwind and rather a cross-wind trying to blow you over as you went down the hills. It was a tough course and normally you get downhill back from the uphill’s and Placid had massive downhills BUT because of the rain my brakes were barely working so I had to go down really slow. I would pull on the breaks and they responded with “meh, don’t want to”. A brake placebo. The first loop took 3.5 hours. I was looking at a 7 hour bike ride. I’m not sure how much better I would have done without the rain but it really was just very tough. There were a few flat sections but mainly it was up and then a short down. You can see the elevation data below (this is for both loops). It stopped raining by the second loop and the road dried up plus I now knew the course a bit better so I took the downhills much faster. I got up to 45 mph πŸ™‚ weeeeeeeeeee. The second loop was definitely better than the first but I really wasn’t any faster on the second loop and my total bike time 7:01:57. Wow! My slowest ever but also I would say the toughest course ever with worst conditions ever. I feel I tried hard during the course so was pleased with it. It’s a very hard course but the scenery was amazing and the miles did go pretty fast. There were aid stations every 10 miles and lots of porta-pottys along the course which was lucky as I guess because it was so cold I had to constantly pee on that first loop πŸ™‚

im lake placid 2018 Bike Data

 

Another quick transition and on to the run. It was actually great weather for the run. Around 70 degrees but lots of cloud so no bright sun beating down on you. The course was hilly (surprise). I felt tired getting off the bike but not drained. My plan was to run downhill and flat and walk the uphills and I mostly stuck to that with the odd extra bit of walking when required. It was great seeing my family at the half way point (I also got to see them mid-point and at the end of the bike). They had orange Gatorade on the run course which surprised me, normally its lime πŸ™‚ I brought my own nutrition and had a gel every 30 minutes, this time I used ones with caffeine! Apart from that it was the same as all the other IRONMAN events with water, coke (which I had a couple of times), redbull and later on chicken broth. They also had various types of food. The run is two loops and the volunteers throughout the event were amazing as always and the crowds were great. Everyone talks about the finish line at Lake Placid being second only to Kona and it was amazing not that I remember much about it πŸ™‚ I was really tired and basically had tunnel vision on the finish line. I forgot to even make some kind of victory pose. I just ran across the line πŸ™‚ Final time on the marathon 5:20:37 giving me a total time of 14:15:59 when you add in the transitions. That time is way off my best however this was a very different course, very different conditions and I really gave it my all. Sometimes I finish an IRONMAN and feel like I could have done better. I feel proud of this one and am really happy with my performance.

68_3rd-2415593-CERT_US-2178_161776-18674853

And the reward πŸ™‚ Medal, hat and t-shirt goodness. You also got a mini-towel to celebrate the 20th anniversary.

I picked up my bike and bags, dropped my bike off at Tri Bike Transport then walked back to the hotel (about half a mile). Showered, ate 1/3 of a sandwich my better half got for me then completely failed to sleep all night like every other night after an IRONMAN. Could not sleep a wink. I wish I knew why. I can only guess its eating nothing but sugar all day with caffeine and I never normally drink any caffeine so am pretty sensitive to it I guess. At 5am I left the room and wondered around the town and took a picture of the lake. Really was amazing location.

20180723_091717924_iOS

At 6am I walked down to the store to join the queue. I was about number 20 in the queue and by the time it opened just before 7 there must have been a hundred people behind me. Bought the finisher jacket, t-shirt and polo as normal then headed back for breakfast with my family.

Overall Lake Placid IRONMAN was awesome. As usual the IRONMAN was a great experience. Super well organized, amazing volunteers and you just live to hear Mike Reilly tell you that you are an IRONMAN πŸ™‚ It’s a very tough IRONMAN, I would say the toughest I’ve done. I was chatting to people who had done it in previous years and they said it was harder this year but its a great course, great finish and you have a great sense of accomplishment when you finish. It should be on everyone’s list to do. As the multiple signs on the course point out “if it was easy, it would be called your Mom” πŸ™‚

Two more to go this year, six weeks till Wisconsin then 3 weeks after that Chattanooga!

 

 

IRONMAN Boulder 2018 Race Report

Also known as 14 and a half hours of hell but lets step back.

Six weeks previously I had completed IRONMAN Texas and set a new PR of 12:47. The marathon had not gone great but was still happy with the time and was IRONMAN 1 of 5 scheduled for 2018 to get me to the magical 12 total which will enable me to apply for the legacy program and a chance at Kona. I had maintained my training however I had done little to account for the 6000 feet altitude. I also didn’t swim at all between Texas and Boulder as I was having knee problems and swimming aggravates it but swimming is always the warmup for me at IRONMAN and not super concerned about it.

To help adjust for the altitude we (my wife and 2 youngest kids came with me) set out on Tuesday driving from Texas. We drove nearly 11 hours and stopped at Colorado Springs which is about 90 minutes from Boulder and the same altitude. We booked into a cool hotel called the Mining Exchange that still had the safe from when the hotel was an actual exchange location!

20180606_120432326_iOS

I got up early Wednesday and went to the hotel gym where I ran 12 miles on the treadmill (in the 68 degree air conditioned gym) and felt totally fine. No signs of any difference because of the altitude which was awesome and gave me a lot of confidence that the altitude would not be an issue. How naΓ―ve of me πŸ™‚ We headed out and completed the final miles to get to Boulder where we checked in at the Boulder Marriott which was about one mile from the High School which was the location of the athlete village and shuttle pickup/finishing line. The hotel was going through a modernization which meant multiple times the elevators were not working and our room was actually kind of dirty (chewing gum on the floor under the desk, loads of other dirt on the floor) and the bathroom had a glass door with no blind for the massive window in the bathroom. This becomes an issue when you have young kids that want to go to bed at 7:30 and the sun does not set until 8:30 meaning there is a blaring light for a full hour and when you have an IRONMAN the next day and want to go to bed early.

Thursday morning we went and did a whitewater rafting trip which was fun (although my wife and son could not do it as he broke his arm 2 weeks previously) and then went to the IRONMAN village to check-in. I have AWA status so you had a separate check-in however even the regular line had no wait and was super fast as I’ve found all my IRONMAN check-ins (except Florida 2017 which was a complete cluster). You tell them your number (or name), show an ID, they give you the forms in which you just check its all correct, write in your hotel and phone number, give them back then grab your rack packet which has your bib, stickers and swim cap. They put on your bracelet then you go grab your race bags and timing chip. For the backpack you head over to the store where they give it to you. All done in less than 10 minutes. TriBike Transport was also right there so I grabbed my bike and took to the car. Meanwhile my family checked in to the VIP area so they would have a good view at the finish. About half mile North of the village are a lot of restaurants serving all types of food. There was a Cheesecake Factory we went to quite a few times. Also an awesome ice cream shop which we frequented often which would actually prove to be a problem as there was also a great candy store which we also visited but it was a family vacation so that’s OK right!?

Friday was quiet and I just kept an eye on the weather forecast which was showing Sunday at 95 degrees. Ouch, but I’d done Texas and other IRONMANs at that temperature so was not super concerned. I trained Thursday and Friday morning lightly but rested Saturday. I did not participate in a practice swim, with hindsight a mistake because of the altitude! I packed my bags up Friday and checked them multiple times. As usual I would recheck the bags constantly. I always lay everything out on the bed head to foot and visualize what I need and compare the equipment list in the athlete guide. Additions this year was a headlamp in my morning bag (awesome when pumping up tires and when using the port-a-potties), a plastic grocery bag to help put on the wetsuit (put on your foot as you slide into the suit to avoid friction) and a lubricant to spray on the back of my neck to stop my neck being cut by the wetsuit.

20180608_192941602_iOS.jpg

Saturday morning we got up and drove to the reservoir to drop off my bike and morning clothes bags. TriBike did offer a bike shuttle where they would take your bike but I preferred to see my bike on the bike stand and put it there myself. There was plenty of parking at the reservoir and the whole drop off of the kit went super smooth and like the check-in was fast and event free. We then went and had lunch, didn’t really do much then ordered Cosmos pizza for dinner (which was awesome). I went to bed the same time as the kids and had a raging headache (which I never get). This was because of all the ice cream and candy which I’m just not used to anymore. Damn you delicious sugar. I eventually fell asleep but woke up multiple times checking the clock.

I set an alarm for 2:30 at which point I got up ate my apple sauce, protein shake and bagel. At 3:30 I walked down to the high school (took about 20 minutes) where I dropped off the bike special needs bag (which had a single spare inner tube) then boarded the bus (which were all already there) at 4am for transport to the Boulder Reservoir. The headlamp came in handy here as well as we walked from the bus drop off to the transition area.

We arrived a little before 4:30 (the time of transition opening) but they started the body marking and then headed in to the bikes. I put on my drinks (I decided to try without an aero bottle for this IRONMAN as always found it a pain filling it up during the event and instead just use bottles since that is what they provide at the aid station on the bike course anyway), took my bike to the mechanics where they inflated to 100 and then headed over to check my bike and run bags were still there πŸ™‚ At that point I just settled in at the bike area since the actual swim start had no port-a-potties and knew I’d want to use the bathroom before starting. I had my last drink at 5:30 along with a 5 hour energy, put on my wetsuit (water was 70.9 so wetsuit legal) along with sunscreen then dropped off my morning clothes bag. It was a rolling start where you self seeded so I put myself at the back of the 1:20 to 1:30 section.

The age groups started getting in the water at 6:20 and I think I was in around 6:35. The water felt good but visibility was only a couple of feet. I started to swim and took my first breath, head into the water and OH MY GOD I NEED AIR is all that went through my head. I’M DROWNING. It was the sensation when you hold your breath and you’re at the end and need to gasp. The altitude seemed to have had no impact on me at all in the training since I’d been in Boulder however with the swim where you take a big breath was a huge difference. People had warned me about the swim but I really didn’t think it would impact me but it was super unsettling. I just had to keep telling myself it was OK, breath deep and slowly exhale. After a couple of hundred yards I got used to it and it was OK. The swim was one big loop but it seemed to take forever! Final swim time was 1:31:25 which is pretty typical for me. A quick run out and they helped you out of the wetsuit (sit on your butt on the floor and they yank it off), grabbed bike bag and into the change tent.

79_3rd-2401508-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2161_004849-17435483

It was already getting hot! On with more sunscreen, bike top, nutrition etc and out to the bike where I hopped on. The bike course was two loops. Now I had been warned (by the manager at Papa Brothers funnily enough who had done a single IRONMAN which was Boulder) that the course was deceptive. If you were going towards the mountains you were going uphill even if it looked like a downhill which made no sense to me and I assumed he was crazy. HE WAS RIGHT. No matter how it looked if you are going towards the mountains you were peddling and going slow. There were sections I would swear were a fairly big downhill gradient but you were peddling hard and going 12mph. There were times I was going 5mph and I saw many people just walk their bikes up the hill which I’d never seen on an IRONMAN before. It was insane. On the other hand if you were going away from the mountain it was the opposite and you were going downhill. There were sections I got up to 41mph which was awesome. If you were parallel to the mountains then the visual of the gradient was accurate. It was hard. The first loop was not too bad however for the second loop the sun was out in force, there was a headwind as you approached the mountain and you were just tired. There were aid stations roughly every 10 miles which had as usual bottles of Gatorade Endurance, bottles of water and some gels.

The official temperature was 95 however I read that people say when you add the lack of shade, the radiation from the road, the altitude the “feels like” was 103. Who knows but it was tough! As I rode I kept hearing a weird crushing sound which I later realized was my soul as I was mercilessly beat down. Along the ride I saw multiple people just veer off onto the side of the road and crash where they had blacked out while riding! Fortunately none of those people I saw were seriously hurt. The road condition itself was great, it was really just very hot, high altitude and was a pretty tough course. Total time was 6:28:49 which is slow for me.

I got to transition and really didn’t feel great. I grabbed my run bag, changed and headed out which was about a 6 mile run (at a slight up hill gradient) with no shade to the town where you would then complete 2 loops for the 26.2 mile total distance. My goal was 3 minutes run and 1 minute walk. After one interval that changed to 2 minute run and 1 minute walk until it flipped round to 1 minute run and 2 minute walk. Then there were periods where I just walked. It was just hot hot hot and horrible. The sun would not go down (well it did at 8:30 just as I was finishing). The course was basically flat with the occasional up or down and there were aid stations every mile with cups of Gatorade, water, coke and various things to eat. Once you got to the two loop run along the creek there was shade so that helped a bit but by that point I was just burnt out. In the end I limped in for a 6:06:48 marathon which is my slowest ever (apart from my first IRONMAN where I had second degree sunburn by the time I got to the marathon πŸ™‚ ). Total time of 14:30:37 which is nearly 1 hour 45 minutes slower than Texas which was 6 weeks previous! So obviously disappointed but at least I finished. I understand it was an 18% DNF (did not finish) and I saw a lot of people on the run that had passed out, being sick so consider myself very fortunate was not in that position and hopefully everyone is OK. I’m also pretty sure some of the mile markers were wrong as once I passed mile 25 it seemed to be about 2 more miles to the finish or my mind was just playing tricks on me but others I spoke to said the same thing πŸ™‚

One great thing was seeing my family at the finish line which is why I have the big smile on my face but also made me feel guilty for taking so long and making them wait! Couldn’t do it without their support and was so grateful they waited for me to finish. Hopefully I can make it up to them at Lake Placid in 5 weeks and not make them wait so long!

20180611_102401000_iOS102_3rd-2401508-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2161_053792-17435506107_3rd-2401508-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2161_062377-17435511114_3rd-2401508-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2161_069998-17435518

A HUGE call out to the volunteers. It was tough being out there competing but there were also all the volunteers who were out there in the same sun helping us and really just can’t thank them enough as without them it would not be possible at all.

Thankfully my wife drove so didn’t have to walk back to the hotel where I showered, ate some pizza and couldn’t sleep a wink all night. I got up early, had McDonalds which opened up at 5 then walked to the village where I was second in line to the store to buy all my finisher goodies πŸ™‚

Boulder is an awesome IRONMAN. It was well organized, very pretty scenery and a great host town. I think the altitude obviously is tough and we were just unlucky with the heat. The next day the high was 82, a full 13 degrees cooler! Oh well. Definitely recommend it but try and get there early to acclimatize and do a practice swim so you don’t freak out on the actual day!

20180612_201440000_iOS

20180611_143911141_iOS

Good luck!

IRONMAN Texas 2018 Race Report

28th of April 2018 was my first IRONMAN of 2018 and the forth time of participating in the IRONMAN Texas event. As usual it was a great event and had good conditions, if a little on the bright sunny side (which we’ll get to). As a recap my history with Texas:

  • 2015 – First ever IRONMAN. It was about 95 degrees and near 100% humidity. I got second degree sun burn on the bike and pretty much had to walk/drag the entire marathon. My time was around 15:30
  • 2016 – Second IRONMAN. It was cooler but the bike course was cut short to about 96 miles (if I remember correctly) and we had a hail storm during the marathon. Time is meaningless because bike was so much shorter than normal and was stopped for a period of time during the marathon
  • 2017 – My forth IRONMAN. Good conditions, managed to run non-stop the first 13 miles and finished in around 13:02. It was the new bike course on the toll-road but we had strong wind which meant in one direction of the toll-road loop (you did two loops) your speed dropped a LOT
  • 2018 – My eighth IRONMAN (I did a total of 4 in 2017, Texas, Santa Rosa, Florida and Chattanooga). Also got AWA silver status for this year.

For this year I decided to stay at the Westin which is basically at the finish line. In previous years I always stayed somewhere that required me to drive and it was always a little bit of extra stress worrying my car key would survive morning clothes bag etc. This year I just decided to remove that stress completely and just treat myself πŸ™‚

I drove down to Houston Thursday morning and arrived around 10:00. I went straight to athlete check-in which never seems to have a long wait (the AWA express line was longer than the regular πŸ™‚ ), check the forms, sign, grab bags, duffle bag, timing chip, buy some things at the store and you are done in 10 minutes. From there I was able to check-in early so that was great. I would then begin my standard eating pattern for Houston. Macaroni Grill for lunch and dinner on Thursday (pasta with marinara and chicken breast), lunch again on Friday followed by Grimaldi’s Pizza Friday night πŸ™‚ There are lots of things to do around the Woodlands and no end of food options.

I really just relaxed Thursday and laid everything out on the bed that I would need to pack in the transition bags and for race morning. I would later unpack and recheck multiple times including when I actually drop off the bags πŸ™‚

Friday I woke up early, watched some TV, ate a bagel and rechecked the bags. The transition is just over half a mile walk from the IRONMAN village so I decided to walk my bike and bags to the transition which had a 10am open time. I had already let air out my tires to avoid any risk of popping over night. The check-in is very smooth. Essentially as you walk in they take a picture of your bike, they will direct you to where you mount your bike (by the seat) and then you go drop off your run and bike transition bags in the designated areas. There are lots of volunteers to help direct you. You can also access the bags on race morning if you happen to forget anything. And that’s it for Friday! I went and had lunch, saw Avengers Infinity War (which was great), ate pizza and went to bed early and actually had a good nights sleep which is rare for me before an IRONMAN. I was more relaxed than usual.

Saturday morning I set an alarm for 3am. Ate an apple sauce, protein drink with milk and a bagel along with some Gatorade. I got ready and headed out about 4:40 as transition opened at 5am to check your bike, drop off drinks, pump up tires etc. I had my morning clothes bag with me with wetsuit, googles, cap and drinks etc. I had my tri-suit on and my timing chip already round my ankle. Remember to take a drink with you to drink while you wait and I take an extra bagel as well as I like to keep eating πŸ™‚

20180428_090759300_iOS

I arrived a little before 5am but they were already letting people in. One thing I didn’t bring which I will in future was a head lamp as it was a pain trying to check bike, pump tires etc. You can take your bike up to the technicians who will pump up your tires for you but normally I just borrow a pump from someone around me which is what I did this time. I filled up my aero bottle, put an extra bottle of water on the bike and went and checked my gear bags were still there πŸ™‚

From transition its about a mile walk to the swim start. It was about 55 degrees so I had a long sleeve shirt over the tri-suit and was a nice walk down. Once you arrive at the swim start you get the body markings done and you can also drop off the bike and run special needs bags if you choose to use them. This is also where you drop off your morning clothes bag before the swim start. There are quite a lot of port-a-potties however the queues get big very quickly so use them early!

The age groupers start at 6:40 and for the first time in Texas IRONMAN history it was WET SUIT LEGAL!!! This was great news for me. About 6:10 I put on layers of suntan spray, some glide around my neck then put on my wetsuit, dropped off my morning clothes bag (which would be waiting for me at the finish) and took my place in the 1:30 to 1:40 self-seed location for the swim. I was in the water just before 7am. The water gives basically zero visibility (it’s gross) and I tend to stay on the outside of the pack to minimize getting kicked! I maintained a steady pace and its a basic out, back, then down a canal to the finish line. The visibility out of the water was pretty good so when you poke up your head you could see the buoys to stay on track. As always lots of helpers to get you out the water, help get out the wetsuit, short run and then grab the bike gear bag and into the changing tent. I did a 1:31 swim which was good for me so very happy there.

I grabbed my bike and off I went. There was very little wind and the temperature was not too bad. About every 10 miles there are aid stations which bottles of water, bottles of orange Gatorade, gels and some food. I had my own food which was a gel every hour and at 20 minutes and 40 minutes past the hour half a waffle. The bike course is about 30 miles on regular roads and 80 miles on the toll road (two loops). It’s basically flat the entire time with some minimal rolling hills. Now this year there was a bit of controversy, packs of cyclists that were drafting at a massive level. Below are a few pictures I grabbed off social media.

There were multiple packs of 50 riders that caused numerous accidents, drove people off the road and were breaking the rules of IRONMAN where there should be NO drafting. Now I was lucky. I saw the packs but they were on the opposite side of the road (benefit of me being slow) but I was not impacted by them but there are a lots of stories about them causing accidents where people were hurt and ultimately they are just cheating themselves. How did this happen? Why did the officials not break them up and send them to the penalty tent as in every other year there are lots of motorbikes with officials that would stop this type of thing.

Based on various threads it appears the officials were all pulled off the course for athlete safety. There are 3 lanes on the toll road. The middle lane was supposed to be used for the outbound, the inner most lane (by the median) for the inbound with the outer lane for support vehicles. It seems as soon as the age groupers got on the course they/we all used the outer most lane in addition to middle lane at which point it was considered unsafe to have the officials out on the course as they may hit cyclists. The bike support vehicles were still out though so not 100% clear on the difference.

172_3rd-2384597-DIGITAL_HIGHRES-2330_106876-15959814

The peloton aside, the bike was uneventful and fast (except for the fact for some reason I had to stop to pee 3 times in the first 2 hours, I think I drank too much πŸ™‚ ). At mile 80 one of my aero pads flew off so the last 30 miles sucked as I had to rest my arm on Velcro but not that big of a deal. It was also 110 miles as they had to shorten the course by 2 miles for athlete safety. I think the original turn point on the tollway was a tight turn which if you went too fast would end with a 40 foot drop so they felt that was not the best idea πŸ™‚ I’m fine with safety first there! Bike was 5:40:40 which again was pretty good for me (especially considering all the pee breaks πŸ™‚ ).

I felt good running to the run transition except when I took a deep breath it made me cough. This had happened to me on previous IRONMANs. As I realized yesterday its the swim. I don’t swim much and when you swim you take short, deep breaths. I’m just not used to it so I need to focus on that more in my training as that inability to take deep breaths caused me challenges on the run! I got changed and headed out. Note at every transition I reapply sun screen AND let the volunteers add their own layer as well. Better safe than sorry.

The run is 3 laps. There are areas with lots of crowd support and areas that are very quiet but its super flat and a pleasant run.

I started a steady run at about 10 minute mile pace which included 20 second walk at each mile to drink from the aid station (which are every mile and had water, lime Gatorade, red bull, coke, some food and later in the night chicken broth however I actually finished this year before that was available πŸ™‚ ). I had my own gels which I wanted to take every 30 minutes. I managed this for the first 2 hours but after that had trouble eating.

The sun was strong. It was only about 82 degrees but there was almost no shade and the sun was relentless. My goal was to run non-stop until at least mile 13 but at mile 10 when I stopped to drink I couldn’t get started again straight away and from that point on it was a mixture of run/walk until I got to the last couple of miles when I ran as best I could until reaching that final turn when everything goes out the window and you just run trying to fool everyone that you’d been doing that the entire previous 26 miles πŸ™‚ I’m English and the sun just saps everything from me but also my inability to take deep breaths was an issue and my body just didn’t want to eat the gel so of course I was lacking energy. I think I needed to be drinking more, taking more salt and just forcing myself to eat the gels every 30 minutes. Lessons learned πŸ™‚ Final run was 5:12:40 which was disappointing as I’ve done better than that on other IRONMANs but overall I set a PR as the swim and bike had been good. Final time 12:47:35!

Once done the amazing volunteers helped me grab a drink, get a picture, a slice of stone cold pizza (incentive to run faster for next time πŸ™‚ ) then I walked straight to the Westin where I was unable to sleep the entire night but the day was done.

So I was happy and a little disappointed as I felt I could have done better on the run but still overall a new PR so I’ll take it πŸ™‚ The next morning I got to the store at 6:15 where I grabbed a chair and joined the line ready to buy my finisher jacket, polo, hoodie and t-shirts πŸ™‚ They were all awesome this year!

I know it was 2 miles shorter on the bike but even with an extra 6 minutes of bike I’d still have PR’d. Additionally I read some people saying because it was 2 miles shorter they are not a true IRONMAN. I disagree 100%. 2 miles makes zero difference. Some IRONMANs have 110 mile bike, some 111, some 116 (damn you Chattanooga), some have downstream swims, some are hilly, some are flat, some are really hot, some are cool. You can’t compare. You did 2.4 mile swim, 110 mile bike then a 26.2 mile marathon. YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!

Now on to Boulder!

 

Adding a bit of fun to your goals

After the IRONMAN events of 2017 (Texas, Santa Rosa, Chattanooga and Florida) I wanted to recover for a couple of months (although I still did two marathons in December and the Dopey challenge in January) and I put on about 6 pounds. Here we are needing to train for this years IRONMANs and wanted to lose the 6lbs and my wife also wanted to lose some weight so we made a bet of it. Who could lose the most body fat percentage in 5 weeks (we started last week) with the final weigh in being my birthday (4 weeks from today). Now this is slanted in my wives favor because we are talking percentage and I weigh a lot more so while 1% is 2lbs of fat loss for me its substantially less for her but I made up the terms so can’t complain πŸ™‚

Last week I was at 11.2% body fat and I’ve trained my butt off and I felt I ate a lot better the past week. I weigh in on Saturday before my training so between weigh-ins:

  • Saturday – 3 hour bike ride (63 miles, 2200 calories) and 1 hr 10 min run (7 miles, 1150 calories) so 3,350 calories and consumed about 1600 during the training so 1750 deficit
  • Sunday – Rest day
  • Monday – 30 minutes bike (400 calories) and 1 hour hill running (1200 calories) and 1hr 15 of chest, triceps and abs (400 calories) and consumed about 430 during training so 1570 deficit
  • Tuesday – 30 minutes bike (400 calories) and 1 hour cross trainer (840 calories) and 1hr 15 of back, biceps and abs (400 calories) and consumed about 200 during training so 1440 deficit
  • Wednesday – 18.3 mile run in 3 hours (3000 calories) and consumed 1300 during training so 1700 deficit
  • Thursday –Β 30 minutes bike (400 calories) and 1 hour cross trainer (840 calories) and 1hr 15 of chest, triceps and abs (400 calories) and consumed about 200 during training so 1440 deficit
  • Friday –Β 30 minutes bike (400 calories) and 1 hour cross trainer (840 calories) and 1hr 15 of back, biceps and abs (400 calories) and consumed about 200 during training so 1440 deficit

So in total a deficit ofΒ 9,340 calories during the training. One pound of fat is 3,500 so I was feeling pretty good. Based on my body size and muscle mass my Base Metabolic Rate (BMR) is about 2000 calories which is the calories the body burns just to exist and not moving so normally you would actually burn about 50% more than that through walking around, driving and doing various things but my job is basically sedentary sitting at a computer all day so I’ll say mine is 2,200 for the hours I’m not at the gym.

Now what do I eat each day on average?

  • Pre-workout whole-wheat English muffin with jam (200 calories)
  • 60 grams of protein after training (300 calories)
  • Breakfast microwave muffin (300 calories)
  • Lunch (totally varies but lets say normally about 1000)
  • After lunch riesen chocolate (45 calories)
  • Mid afternoon protein shake (20 grams of protein and 100 calories)
  • Dinner (varies but lets say normally 1000 calories)
  • Post dinner tea-spoon of cookie dough (120 calories)
  • Pre-bed casein protein shake (20 grams of protein and 100 calories)

About 3,100 calories a day. Now I had some slip-ups this week as had to travel for a couple of days which meant what-a-burger one night, butter croissants one morning as I couldn’t find anything, extra snacks as couldn’t have my normal afternoon protein shake, half a donut Friday and extra pizza Friday lunch (beyond the normal Friday night pizza at Grimaldis). But still felt I was going to do great as even with those things on average food was about 600 calories less than what I should have burned a day so I was thinking 1 lb of fat loss, maybe a little more and was hoping for .7% fat loss. This morning I weighed in.

20180203_100128504_iOS

11.1% body fat and actually was also about 1/4 of a pound heavier than last week. A grand total offffff .1% or.2lbs of body fat. WTH!!! So not the .7% I had wanted. Clearly I had eaten far worse than I realized. I have 4 weeks left and still would love to lose the 3% which means 6lbs of body fat or 1.5lbs a week. That’s a 5000 calorie deficit a week or about 700 a day. This is high and I’m really at the tail end of what I can lose but I’ll give it my best shot! What can I do different? Well I’ll cut out my riesen and cookie dough treat, be strict about my meals and try to cut out cheese and bread as much as possible. I guess we’ll see how next weeks weigh in goes.

It’s always darkest before dawn

I missed my week 1 goal completely however the path to success is failure. I look for what I can learn and also there are other considerations.

Firstly the machines are not 100% accurate and I’ve seen swings before so I’m not going to super obsess over this one reading.

Second I always try and judge by how my clothes feel and how I look. I’ve felt that I’ve lost some body fat based on my upper body look. Below is some biceps from Friday last week.

Third, my training has been awesome the past week. As I listed earlier I have done a stack of training this week, most days in addition to the cardio I did about an hour and a quarter of heavy weights. I’ve not felt tired during the day and my training today went great and even now after 5 hours this morning of hard training I feel fine!

So while I want to lose some weight I don’t want to risk my training which is ultimately the most important thing. That’s why my plan for next week is not really focusing on taking out food but rather the junk aspects but I want to keep in the good calories.

The other good news is my wife didn’t lose any weight last week either so I’m not at any disadvantage so its all about the next 4 weeks πŸ™‚

Wish me luck πŸ™‚

Walt Disney World 2018 Dopey Challenge Race Report

I just got back from our vacation to Disney World in Florida where I took part in the Dopey challenge which is a series of four runs over four days all within Disney World Florida.

  • 5K on Thursday
  • 10K on Friday
  • Half Marathon on Saturday
  • Marathon on Sunday

That’s 48.6 miles over the four days and 2018 was the 5th Dopey and the 25th anniversary of the Disney Marathon. We arrived in Florida on Tuesday and decided to stay in the Polynesian and had a great room in the Hawaii building which overlooked the Magic Kingdom and lagoon which meant at night we could watch the water parade and fireworks from the room.

There are various combinations of runs you can partake in. You could do any one of the runs individually, if you did the half and full you also got the Goofy challenge and if you did all four you get the Goofy and Dopey challenge. Additionally for the half and full marathon there is an optional race retreat which is a tent for before and after the runs serving food which has heating and AC and extra character picture opportunities. Additionally the race retreat offered early entry to the expo. I opted for the Runners World VIP Dopey offering this year which is all four runs, race retreat access in addition to training plans from Runners World, separate walk out to the half marathon and marathon and separate packet pick-up. I’d use the Runners world twice previously for the inaugural Dopey and its second year.

Wednesday I headed to the Expo with my family (my wife was also doing the Marathon and my youngest kids doing the fun runs). I got there before 10 as I had early entry before the general 12 opening. This was pretty disorganized but eventually I managed to pick up my bibs and shirts (after first getting my race retreat band which was a 30 minute queue). I picked up 6 shirts, a t-shirt for the 5k and then 5 long sleeve sports shirts for the 10k, half, marathon, Goofy and Dopey. There was no line at the expo store which was good so bought a few bits and pieces. Past 12 the expo was really busy I heard.

It was coollllddddd. In the 30’s so going round the parks which were very packed was not much fun with 2 6 year olds but we wondered around a little and ate at the hotel.

The Disney runs all start at 5:30 am and for the 5K and 10K the bus transportation starts at 3:30 and so for Thursday I was there at 3:30 ready for the first bus from the hotel which takes you to Epcot where all the runs start (actually the Epcot parking lot or car park for my English brethren). I set an alarm for 2:30 but was already awake as didn’t sleep well. It must have been about 34 degrees but at least they had some heaters in the waiting area (along with lots of porta-pottys) which about 100 people tried to gather around each. I had an under armor shirt, a sweat shit, hat, gloves, leggings, shorts and was still freezing.

About an hour before the run start you could head to the corals where you waited in the cold. I was in coral B for the 5K and 10K (one bib) and C for the half and marathon (a second bib). Basically waiting for 90 minutes to run a 5K. By the time it started my feet were numb and the route was just round the car park area. There was about a 4 minute gap between corals starting and they broke the start down into mini waves even within a coral but was pretty smooth and because I was in B started pretty soon after 5:30. They had water on the course and what can I say. It was a 5K run really around a car park in pitch black. Then you grabbed your 5K medal, a snack box then back on the bus. I went straight to the fitness center and did some weights, grabbed breakfast for the family then off to the parks for the day).

Friday was basically exactly the same except this time it was 10K and you got to run through Epcot as part of the course and you got a 10K medal πŸ™‚ Still freezing cold and still water on the course. I was in a rush as we had an 8am character breakfast so that motivated me to move it πŸ™‚

Friday night we went to Macaroni Grill (which is by Disney Village, now called Disney Springs) via Uber where I had pasta and grilled chicken breast, trying to eat something clean to prepare for longer runs.

For the half and full things are a little different. You have to get the monorail to the race if you are staying at Polynesian, Contemporary or Grand Floridian (but can get a bus back) and this starts at 3am. Also you can go to the race retreat before the race starts. It’s still really cold but will warm up as the run goes on but I decide to way the same clothes. I get up at 2am, walk to the Ticket and Transportation Center (TTC) (which is next to the Polynesian) to catch the monorail to Epcot (the resort monorail loop is separate and you have to change at TTC anyway). They weren’t ready till 3:15, a little behind schedule, but all good. Once I got off the monorail I walked to the start area and straight to the race retreat which had water, Gatorade, coffee, bagels (and post race hot breakfast but I never went there post race). It was nice and warm inside and I stayed there till 4:45 when we got a separate walk to the start as part of Runners World VIP via a back way which was great. Once you got to the coral people were hoping over the fence to pee in the woods. This time on the course there was water and Gatorade and in addition they had some nutrition in the form of sports beans during the second half with lots of porta-potties along the course if needed. The race started at 5:30, again with waves and this time you run to the Magic Kingdom, through it, then back via Polynesian where you enter Epcot briefly before finishing back in the Epcot car park. I stopped to get my picture taken in front of the castle and the Epcot golf ball during the run πŸ™‚ but there were lots of opportunities to get other pictures with characters and landmarks throughout the course. I had a 9am character breakfast in Cinderella’s castle so once again was rushing. I grabbed my half marathon medal, got my picture and jumped on the bus back to Polynesian. Like all the runs they are basically flat with the only inclines during an overpass (a Florida hill as a bus driver explained to me πŸ™‚ ).

Saturday tried to take it easy around the parks and once again Macaroni Grill for the same dinner as Friday.

Sunday was the same routine as Saturday, same transportation, same start time, just twice the distance and with this course you run through all four parks and there is more nutrition on the course with more energy gels, bananas throughout the course and even packets of M&Ms at the last 2 miles! While it started off cold the forecast showed it would warm up so I didn’t have hat or gloves, just a throw-away hoodie (that I ditched after the first hour). There are some spots where you are just running along roads but overall its a great course, the crowds are awesome and there is plenty to look at. At mile 20 you are at ESPN where you also run round the ball park and I got a picture with Minnie Mouse. At mile 25 they had a special mile marker to celebrate the 25th anniversary and I got my picture taken there but I guess it got lost (along with my wife’s medal finisher picture 😦 ). When you hit the Epcot world showcase you are at the one mile left point and it goes by quickly. A quick run under the golf ball, round a corner and you get your medal! Then you go to a series medal tent where they check your picture and you get your Goofy and Dopey medals along with a special 25th anniversary Mickey Mouse hat.

Overall I was happy with my times and it was a great Dopey!

Wanted to finish with a huge congratulations to my wife. She complete the marathon without any training the last 6 weeks because of a rib injury and not much training up until that point. It was pure spirit and willpower that got here through. Very proud!

 

 

 

Silver All World Athlete for 2018

Just got notification I got Silver All World Athlete status for 2018. That’s based on being in the top 5% of full Ironman event athletes in 2017 for the points gained (based on the time difference between you and the person that one) from your top 3 Ironman’s. Now lots of people don’t do 3 or more which limits how many points they can accrue but yay Silver and yay great benefits like separate event check-in, AWA bib and swim caps for 2018. The 1000 point one if when you wear a wetsuit if its wetsuit optional. In that case you can only get 1000 points.